Woman Misdiagnosed with a Sinus Infection Becomes Paralyzed

Initially, Sierra Henderson a young woman went to the emergency room because of pain on her foot and a bad taste in her mouth. While she was only diagnosed with a simple sinus infection, she saw her body become completely paralyzed by a rare condition called Guillain-Barré syndrome.

Guillain Barré Syndrome Nerve Damage

Guillain Barré Syndrome Nerve Damage

Sierra Henderson’s life changed in early October. With persistent pain in her foot and a bad taste in her mouth, she decided to go to the emergency room. After examining her, a doctor assured her that she had a simple sinus infection.

Unconvinced by the diagnosis, the mother of an 18-month-old girl returned to the hospital the next day for a second opinion. The doctors she saw also came to the same conclusion but were kind enough to refer her to a neurologist.

Her brother, Tim Goen, who told the story of the young woman from Indianapolis to a local TV channel RTV6, was surprised: “She came for a pain in her foot and came back with the diagnosis of a sinus infection. It surprised me.”

The young woman, also worried, went to the neurologist who confirmed that she had a serious health problem.

Tim Goen explained: When she went to the neurologist, she saw Dr. Kiran Ivaturi who immediately knew what it was all about and sent her for further testing. He immediately knew it was Guillain-Barré syndrome.

Sierra Henderson now knew she had a rare disease where the immune system attacks peripheral nerves and causes paralysis.

She was paralyzed and had to be put on a respirator. Her brother thought she would have to learn to walk and talk all over again. Fortunately, the young woman was able to recover and recently managed to leave the intensive care unit.

“Now it seems that walking is the only thing she has to do rehabilitation for.  Since the respirator was removed, she has been able to talk again.

Tim Goen is satisfied with his sister’s perseverance which probably saved her life. He warns the general public: “If you have symptoms of the same type as my sister, go to the hospital because it could have been worse.  And maybe she would not be here right now. ”

Guillain-Barré syndrome: What is it?

Guillain-Barré syndrome is a rare inflammatory autoimmune disease. It affects about 1 to 2 people per 10,000 per year.

This disease – usually triggered by a bacterial or viral infection – attacks part of the peripheral nervous system including nerves that control muscle movements (swallowing, walking, talking, and breathing) or transmit pain, thermal and tactile sensations. The patient may then have paresis (loss of motor skills in part of the body), muscle weakness and loss of sensation in the legs and/or arms.

Symptoms of Guillain-Barré syndrome

Most patients with Guillain-Barré syndrome recover without serious long-term neurological complications if treated. The signals to observe are:

  • Muscle weakness and tingling. Usually, they start in the legs and can spread over the arms and face;
  • Paralysis of the legs, arms or facial muscles;
  • Damage to the thoracic muscles which leads to breathing problems (for 20% to 30% of patients);
  • The ability to speak and swallow can be impaired in severe cases.

While most patients recover, 3% to 5% of patients with Guillain Barré syndrome die from complications of the disease, such as respiratory paralysis, sepsis, pulmonary embolism or cardiac arrest.




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